Seasonal Recipes for the Summer

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009

More seasonal recipes to help you eat locally and live frugally!

What's in season in July/August?

To find out what's in season in your area, you can google "produce availability" and the name of your state, or choose your state on The latter has to be the worst designed and yet most valuable website I've seen. Anything you want to know about pick-your-own farms and preserving foods can be found there.

If you live in North Carolina, you will likely see the following fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market this month: green beans, butter beans, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, grapes, leafy greens, okra, peaches, peppers, potatoes, raspberries, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Summer Seasonal Recipes

I decided this time around to provide some of my favorite "universal" recipes - that is, generic recipes that I can alter easily to fit what's available. I've found that using universal recipes has been the best strategy for my family to eat seasonally - meal planning is simplified, yet it still feels like our meals our diverse and interesting.

First off, a muffin recipe. We're still in the midst of berry season, so this is a good recipe to have on hand to carry you through the summer. I experiment regularly with the ingredients in this recipe, so my notes are at the end.

Berry Muffins
(slightly modified from The Ultimate Muffin Book)

COST: $0.56 per muffin*

1 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp flour, divided
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pint berries
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 c. buttermilk
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease the muffin tins.
  • Whisk 1 3/4 cups of the flour, the oat flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform. In a small bowl, toss the berries with the remaining 1 Tbsp. flour. Set both bowls aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla until smooth. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour mixture just until moistened. Gently fold in the flour-coated berries, incorporating them without breaking them up.
  • Fill the prepared muffin tins 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffins are browned with cracked but rather flat tops. A toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin should come out with one or two moist crumbs attached, provided the wet berries don't gum up the toothpick as it pierces the muffin.
  • I generally do half white flour and half whole wheat. The muffins turn out less fluffy, but more nutritious.
  • I use quick oats instead of oat flour because I don't buy oat flour and am too lazy to make my own.
  • I've experimented quite a bit with using honey in muffins rather than sugar since I can buy honey locally. Basically, you just need to add 1/2-3/4 as much honey as sugar, decrease the amount of liquid slightly, and lower the temperature 25 degrees since honey browns faster than sugar. The muffins end up with an obvious honey flavor but taste just as delicious.
  • If using frozen berries, do not thaw them.
  • The muffin pictured has an oat crunch topping made by mixing some butter, oats, flour, and sugar and then sprinkling it over the muffins. Normally, I don't make this.

A stir-fry makes a great universal recipe. Mix and match your vegetables to create a new dish every time. Some options include carrots, peas, corn, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, greens, cabbage, squash, zucchini, and scallions. In the winter when vegetables are scarce, you can even sprout your own bean sprouts. Almost anything tastes good in a stir-fry.

This dish can be served with rice or over Chinese egg noodles.

Stir-Fried Vegetables with Cashew Nuts
(from The Cook's Encyclopedia of Vegetarian Cooking)

COST: $1.325 per serving*

2 pounds mixed vegetables
2-4 Tbsp. sunflower or olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger root
1/2 c. cashew nuts or 4 Tbsp. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds
soy sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Prepare the vegetables according to type.
  • Heat a frying pan, then trickle the oil around the rim so it runs down to coat the surface. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the harder vegetables and toss over the heat for another 5 minutes, until they start to soften.
  • Add the softer vegetables and stir-fry everything over high heat for 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the cashew nuts or seeds. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Serve at once.

This recipe calls for cherries, but it works just as well with other berries. You might need to adjust the sugar slightly, depending on the tartness of your berries. If you're using cherries, beware! I completely destroyed this cookbook with cherry juice the first time I made this cobbler.

Cherry Almond Cobbler
(from Fresh Choices)

COST: $0.84 per serving*

1/3 c. butter
1/4 c. whole grain pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. organic buttermilk
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 pint sour cherries, pitted and halved
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the butter in a 9" deep-dish pie plate or shallow 2-quart baking dish. Put the pan in the oven until the butter melts, about 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, 1/4 c. sugar, the baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and almond extract, then whisk the mixture into the dry ingredients just until moistened, leaving a few lumps.
  • Pour the batter over the melted butter in the pan. Scatter the cherries on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Bake until browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.

Other great recipes for summer:

Prudent and Practical offers up a Fresh Blueberry Pie.

Going Green Mama has several recipes for using your summer squash harvest:
Green Bean at the Green Phone Booth went crazy with cherries.

And Arduous is asking everyone to dish up some mouth-watering but healthy food porn.

This will be an ongoing series of posts throughout the year. If you would like to participate, you can:
  1. Post a recipe on your personal blog, and add the link to the comments of this post.
  2. Email your recipe to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will include it in the next post.
  3. Post a recipe on your personal blog, email the link to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com, and I will include it in the next post.
*Note that all costs are estimates based on prices in my area. Your costs may vary.

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